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Photo Essay: Ron Kovic Today

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Posted on Jan 18, 2006
Ron Kovic with his painting
Zuade Kaufman / Truthdig

By Zuade Kaufman

icon: VideoView the Photo Essay

Paralyzed from the chest down by Vietnam War wounds, and confined to a wheelchair for almost 40 years, Ron Kovic stands as a symbol of the brutality of war. He also exemplifies a man’s ability to transform such tragedy into a lifelong pursuit of peace—for himself and his country.


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By johncp, January 4, 2011 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

Ron
In the unlikely event that you see this post, though you certainly don’t remember me, I still cherish the memories of seeing you, talking to you, joking with you, decades ago, at the Sidewalk Cafe in Venice Beach.  You used to stand at the doorway at Small World Books, where Mary was the owner, which was part of the Sidewalk Cafe, where I worked as a clerk, behind the counter, and talk to me and your other friends.  We all loved you then, and we all love you now.  I’m 72 years old, and suspect you’re about the same age.  I’ve had a bookstore of my own for over 30 years.  It’s called Couterpoint Records and Books, in Los Angeles.  If you’re ever in L.A., come and pay us a visit.  If I’m not there when you come in, just tell anyone working there that you’re visiting, and to call John.  I’ll be there in a flash. 
I wish you every luck possible in this world.
john

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By Jake Brown, June 1, 2008 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With the help of bogus Israeli intelligence, Bush and his Zionist riddled administration have sold the American people, yet another Jewish fairly tale and we are now fighting and dying for the “Zionist Enterprise”

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/08/18/world/main519037.shtml

Israel To U.S.: Don’t Delay Iraq Attack

JERUSALEM, Aug. 16, 2002
(CBS/AP)

Quote

“Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose.”
Ranaan Gissin
aide to Ariel Sharon

(CBS) Israel is urging U.S. officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, an aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Friday.

Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence that Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons, said Sharon aide Ranaan Gissin.

“Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose,” Gissin said. “It will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.”

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By Don Stivers, May 28, 2008 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

Michael:

It is OUR country that has invaded another.  I would sink to the depths of dirty, guerrilla actions to defend my/our country.  I was once naive enough to want to fly for the Navy and drop bombs on the communists in Viet Nam.  I flunked my physical and never served.  Now I am glad because if I had killed another in a war of lies, I could not live with myself.

This war is because of a spineless nobody who wants to show how tough he is.  He went AWOL during his military time.  He is proud to be a “WAR President”.

I am thankful for our military.  They are here to DEFEND our country, NOT to Offend or Invade another country which presented no danger to ours.  Only bluster came out of that country (Iraq) and at one time we supported that country’s war against Iran because we did not like Iran kicking our butts out because we had manipulated its government for decades.

Look at the pictures of the faces of the children who have blood and brains of their parents dripping down their faces because our soldiers shot into the family car.  And those soldiers were not much more than 18 years old and put into a horrible position and scared to death.  This is what Ron Kovic is trying to prevent.

Bring our men and women home now.  And let’s admit our brave soldiers died in vain and punish those who are directly responsible for this ugly war.

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By Gary, June 22, 2007 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To CG or anyone else.  It was a nice thought that perhaps Ron Kovic could communicate, but OBL is either a fictional entity or a CIA puppet. Altho CIA states that it did not pay him directly, he and “Islamic radical” (a minority) received massive USG funding in the billions.

It is a mistake to assume the Rulers have a conscience.

I hate to bring this example up here, but setting aside questions of “Satan”, etc. and other weirdness, I’ve seen videos showing world leaders meeting in California for strange rituals that include the burning in effigy of the bound infant “Care”, or “Conscience”.  In other words, before conscience grows up, it must be murdered in infancy.  This is a part of the whole “Skull and Bones” sort of world outlook. A young man I know, who was in DeMolay, explained the history of how the Masons (good people who wrote the Declaration and Consitution) were supplanted by S & B people who support an elite social Darwinist view of the human race.

Bottom line, they don’t give a shit.

If this sounds too weird to be true, hit my webpage and read about all the TOP elite foreign pol experts who WROTE PUBLISHED ARTICLES and BOOKS about the NEED for MORE TERRORISM against the US to launch multiple wars of aggression. All this was public, yet at the same time, secret.

Bottom line, they don’t care about human life.  As Kissinger said, the soldiers are just “stupid animals” to them “to be used” as cannon fodder “for political purposes”.  The TROOPS are PR tools for recruitment and the Military Industry.  Dead victims of Sept 11 are TOOLS for recruitment.  Patriotic pro-war Veterans, serve the same purpose, PR and marketing for the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Security-Media complex.  Have I left any out?

Antiwar vets, especially wounded ones, are counterproductive as PR tools for the Military Complex, and must be stifled.  Keep up the good fight everyone.

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By Jim Mike Kennedy, March 8, 2007 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

History repeating itself with Bushes war. Seems like the Nixon era all over again. Since there is no draft this time people aren’t demonstrating on the streets like we did 45 years ago. Those were the days. St. Albans hospital, you and me with bullhorns. The Nassau Community College mall talking to 200 hundred people. I interviewed you a bunch of times on the college radio station. We had some great times running around New York together. Glad to see you are OK old friend!
J. Mike Kennedy

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By Randy, December 29, 2006 at 2:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Brother Ron,
As a fuseman on an 8” and 175mm howitzer battalion attached TDY with the 24th Corp, 1/83re FA Bn, on FB Birmingham, north of Hue a few clicks, I lasted for only 8 months and I ETS’d out in 1971.  Only to be met in my hometown with indifference from my family, friends who hadn’t been there, and ‘Nam vets who reclused themselves away from society, I saw Cruise portray you in a favorable light. I just wish that everyone involved with the producing of the movie could have spent more time with you and other “jungle vets” really learning what war is really about.  Then, maybe someone could have worked it into the movie as a “trailer” about the conditions the way they were, and the conditions the way they are now. Without insurance or work, (I’m job-related disabled, and having to ask the government we risked our lives for, for the permission to retire early with dignity) I have had to rely solely on the Minneapolis VA for the last 30-some-odd years for all medical help.  I don’t know what we’d do without the VA, but our legislators in Washington and in our own states should be well-versed with veterans and their needs after they’ve ETS’d out.  We need another Paul and Sheila Wellstone to rally policymakers and their lobbyists.  Come back, Come back Red Ryder!!
Thank you again Ron, for the good things you have done and are continually doing for our veterans of all wars.  PEACE AND THE “TAO” BLESS YOU AND YOURS.
Randy Nichols
Lake City, MN

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By Stewart Munnerlyn, November 16, 2006 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ron,
    So nice to hear your voice on the computer. You look great, and I am so glad you got a nice van to increase your mobility. I haven’t seen you since one of the protest marches in S.F. right before we went to war with Iraq, you were speaking at the rally at the end. You used to hang out at my junk shop, 2ndhandland, in San Anselmo in the mid-late 1990’s, and we would often talk about issues and play chess. I finally married Stacey, that cute brunette waitress from Bubba’s restaurant where you would also frequent when you lived in Ross. Well, I’m sure you heard, we lost the business in the flood last new years eve and we just sold our house and moved up to Gold Country in the Sierra Foothills. I am trying to get a new shop going and Stacey is planning to open and organic ice cream shop. We are getting an RV soon and would love to come see you sometime. Check out my website to see a video with photos of our new place: http://www.2ndhandland.com and don’t be a stranger.  Hope all is well,
Stew

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By g, November 1, 2006 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

re: eric’s comment below:

yes, the islamo-fascists will soon be here, sawing off american heads as we sit by and wring our hands because we believe in peaceful solutions.

the swarthy hordes will get here by water camel.

the military, at the insistence of liberals, will sit by and watch as waves of muslims over run our shores, plunder our cities, and have their way with all the white women.  then, they’ll begin the head sawing festivities.

wake up, eric, you’ve been duped - again.

remember back a bit if you can…

  saddam - 9/11 links.
  saddam - bin laden ties.
  saddam & stockpiles of wmds
  mushroom clouds
  anthrax
  botulism
  mobile chem labs
  nukular bombs
  we care about iraqis, so we’ll give em democracy

all false. each and every one.

this is the latest excuse for an illegal invasion and occupation.

the truth will set you free.

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By Eric, September 29, 2006 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe you are a great american whose experience is very moving.  However, I do not believe any person in America “wants” to go to war, including President Bush.  Should we not fight against slavery, nazism, fascism?  Have you seen the videos of the islamic terrorist sawing off the heads of their completely compliant captives?  They have blatantly stated they will not stop until every single person in the world converts to their beliefs.  Should we not believe them and bury our heads in the sand until they are here sawing americans heads off?  I love peace too, unfortunately they do not and cannot be reasoned with peacful conversation.  May God bless you in your future endeavors.

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By R. Dean Ludden, September 17, 2006 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ron, I have read of you before,  but I really enjoyed hearing some of your comments in your own voice. Thank you for continuing to witness on behalf of peace.  Wars will never solve our problems, and the current wars are particularly offensive to the spirit.  Never give in!
-Dean

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By janet marks levant mills, September 16, 2006 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ron: We met years ago and we wrote to each other.  I was a repeat stewardess on your many flights.  You were 30 and I was 29.  You made one wonderful impression on me.  I have truly never forgotten you.  I am sad that you did not marry.  For some reason, I wish you had.  I never saw the movie but I read the book many times.  You are so Christlike.  You were not content to just be a hero in Viet Nam.  You came home and you were just as heroic here.  I really love you Ron Kovic.  Janet Marks Levant Mills.

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By David Sherman, August 18, 2006 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This just a question,

          I have seen Born on the Fourth of july 20 times, I was wondering if Ron ever made up with his family.

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By Cheryl Romo, May 16, 2006 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Ron-I watched the movie the 4th of July-and it deeply touched me.I was just a child of4in 1967-and you went over with the other men to serve your country-very corragous-and i wanted to say ty-you are a true vet-and you deserve the highest honor-and uttermost respect from-us The American People-whats war for?give peace a chance- and hope soon we can bring our men and women home from Iraq-saftly-and that war will end—-ty again for you serving America-you helped to make a diffrence-with your life-and with your heart-your truly an american-tc and-the best to you always-God Bless—

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By Danielle Maggio, April 21, 2006 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi Ron, my name is Danielle Maggio, I’m 18 years old and for the past year I have been getting involved with many protests, teach-ins and demonstrations concerning the War in Iraq.  ‘Born on the fourht of July’ is one of my favorite movies and I think what you have done with your life is so amazing.  I am tremendously obsessed with the Vietnam War and the ‘60s in general, and I just pray that Iraq will end soon before it turns into what it’s sure to become.  Thank you for all you’ve done, and all you continue to do.  Power to the people!  Peace.

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By Heather Brasil, March 9, 2006 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello Ron my name is Heather and I am 17 years old and I just got done watching the movie about you called “Born on the Fourth Of July” in my night school class. I thought it was a very good movie. It showed me alot about the war. I didn’t know what really went on over there but after I watched the movie I was extremly shocked to see what actually happened over there. You went through so much stuff in the Vietnom War that nobody should ever have to go through.
I want to thank you as well as everyother veterian of the Vietnom War along with all of the other wars that we have through over the years. It takes alot of guts and currage to go over to another country thousands and thousands of miles away from home to fight some war that sometimes we have no right to be in. So again thank you very much.

                    Sencierly,
                          Heather Brasil

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By Jacqueline Dakin, March 9, 2006 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am in my U.S. history night class right now and we just watched your movie (“Born On The 4th Of July”) and i was truely moved by the reality that you show in your movie. The emotions that you show, the different stages of coaping after you were paralized. It was one of the best movies i have ever seen and i just wanted you to know that. i am not one of those people who like to learn about wars and all that stuff but after watching this movie i was really interested in hearing more about vietnam. you are one of the most amazing people in the entire world. The man who teaches this class said that he could never have delt with all of that like you did. i admire you for your strength.

  thank you for all you have done for our country. there are poeple i know in iraq right now and i am hoping that they return home safe and i pray for them every night.

  sincerely
  Jackie

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By josh gregory, March 9, 2006 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

whats happening brother.  i just fished watching the amazing movie about you , born on the fourth of july .
the best film I have ever seen it really hit home.  Ive heard various stories about the Viet nam war but never really was able to get a good picture in my head but this amazing story you have to share with the world was truely incredible.  you a hero in my eyes Ron.  peace

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By Don Nicholls, February 10, 2006 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for those things that you have done. For too long too many have kept silent and have allowed this darkness. I have not done many of the things that I should have or said those things which begged for voice. What can I do to help?

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By Jeanmarie Simpson, January 28, 2006 at 12:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Mr. Kovic.

Thank you for the work of art that is your life. You will be an inspiration to seven generations and beyond. Pace. Pace e bene.

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By randy davis, January 24, 2006 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ron

as a fellow massapequa alumni, 1964 knowing you as a kid, and watching you at the recruiting meetings in the school, it is indeed a pleasure to have spent a few milliseconds knowing you as i did.. god bless—thanks

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By Linda Morrone, January 23, 2006 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I lived in a red western state when the Iraq war began. My two children, then 12 and 16, could not understand why I was against the war when all of our neighbors were for it. I watched “Born on the 4th of July” with them and that made more of an impact than anything I could say to them. They weren’t even aware that citizens could protest if they disagree with government policies. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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By Michael Dillon, January 20, 2006 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sir, while I liked your article it strikes me as a contradiction in that you were injured on your second tour of duty. You must have therefore, believed in what you were doing in order to volunteer to go back. I too am a veteran. I served for 22 years in the US Army. While I have seen the obsenities of modern warfare up front, I don’t hold the government responsible for my injuries. It is a risk that comes with the job. I agree that we probably could have handled the situation in Iraq “better”, however, Iraq much like Vietnam has an enemy that will sink to the depths of dirty, guerilla actions in an attempt to injure or kill as many of us as possible. Perhaps we should concentrate on supporting those who dare to serve versus using them as a stone to throw thru the administrations glass house.

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By Frank, January 20, 2006 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I ran across your site totally by accident. I enjoyed your letter and your slide show and the audio dialog. I guess I am lucky as I was in the Navy 71-77 and never had to go to war. I too do not agree that war is the answer in 99% of the cases and feel that our country does not care nor want to care for the wounded and those family members that were left behind because the one they loved was killed. A movie and book
Johnny Got His Gun is a story all who think of going to war should read/watch.
Peace and May God be with us all!

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By Jennifer Turner, January 20, 2006 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have seen a lot of people writing that they would love to see this man’s plea for peace televised or that they wish everyone could read his article. Then do what I did- send it to evryone in your address book. A message this strong SHOULD be shared with everybody who will listen and if someone that I sent it to deletes it then they have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to learn an important lesson about humanity and the power of the human spirit.

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By Elmer J., January 20, 2006 at 10:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You have a wonderful way with words.  You have touched a part of my life that is not spoken of very often.  Memories of teachers, babysitters’ boyfriends, and neighbors’ sons going away have come to the surface and brought tears.  The reality that this is still going on is sad.   
You are why I prayed, every night when I was a small girl in the 60’s.  And why I wore POW/MIA bracelets in the 70’s.  And why an internship at Castle Point VA Hospital in 1979 was important to me. 
It was a scarey time.  Nobody talked about it in school.  My parents never explained. It was Grandma who talked about the war and suggested I pray. 
I now have 3 boys.  Nobody likes war, but if the time comes when they are needed, they will stand tall, be brave, and support our country.  Just as our soldiers of today and in the past have done.
The Vietnam War should not have been.  No War should be.  Just the same…...
We are the United States of America and in God We Trust.   
You are a hero Ron Kovic. Thank you.
DM.

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By Brandon Sims, January 20, 2006 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am not someone who supported the Iraq war and was not yet born when Mr. Kovic was injured in Vietnam.  I remember that as a child I heard people speaking of Vietnam and its veterans in hushed voices and whispers.  I did not know what that word “Vietnam” meant, only that it was something not to be spoken about, someting mysterious, and something to be feared.  Its veterans were completely unknown to me, except for one man who lived on my paper route, who was in a wheelchair, whose son wore his green Army jacket everywhere, and whom I do not recall ever speaking to directly. 

It would be shameful if we ever again allowed ourselves to speak in hushed voices about—or fail to speak to—people who served our country and sacrified their health and very lives for a war waged by men completely removed from combat and for no articulable link to the American way of life.  Nonetheless it appears that way for politicians remains as popular as ever, despite its heavy toll on the citizenry, most especially those military.  It is difficult to understand politicians’ rationale for closing Veterans’ hospitals and decreasing Veterans’ benefits when we have more, and more needy veterans with each passing day.  Thank you for reminding us from a first person vantage point of how critically important care is for our veterans, whether we support their mission or not.

All of us feel that we have in some way suffered in life, and often feel that we have been improved or strengthened because of our trials.  Mr. Kovic’s essay brought tears to my eyes and reminded me that my sufferings have been very slight indeed, and that they were nearly all products of my own doing or choices, not because of any actions of my government.

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By GWEN STEFANSKI(DOC SKI), January 20, 2006 at 9:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I READ AND PRINTED YOUR ARTICLE.I WAS A CORPSMAN WITH KILO CO., 3RD BATT., 1ST MAR.DIV. 1968-69.I LIVE THE NIGHTMARES DAY AND NIGHT. IHAV ECRYED MANEY TEARS AND I WILL KEEP YOR STORY AS LONG AS I WALK THIS EARTH.I TRIED TO FORGET BUT ONE CAN’T, IT’S BURNT INTO OUR SOULS. I’VE ASKED GOD MANET TIMES WAY HE ALLOWS MAN TO HAVE WARS AND I’VE ASKED HIM TO HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR ARTICLE. I BELONG TO ALL THE VETERANS GROUPS,VFW,VVA,DAV,AMERICAN LEGION AND THE ONE THING I DON’T UNDERSTAND IS WHY DON’T THEY ALL PLAN A MARCH OF ALL THE GROUPS TOGETHER AT ONE TIME AND HAVE IN WASHINGTON D.C. AND SHOW THE PEOPLE OF OUR COUNTRY OUR PROTEST OF HOW THE VA AND GOVERMENT IS NOT DOING ENOUGH FOR OUR VERTERANS. MAY GOD BLESS YOUR SOUL. THANK YOU BROTHER!!!!!!!

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By Martin, January 20, 2006 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Your letter speaks to the truths found in the hearts of all of us.  I just missed being drafted for Vietnam but I have always felt a senseless futility for the acts of agression our country engages in.  I recently heard a statement which reflects this basic truth, that if the privileged elite in our country (political leaders, etc.) had to send their children and grandchildren to war, there would be no more wars.  I thank you for the deep insight your letter provides and wish you well on your life’s journey.

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By Gopal Sadagopal, January 20, 2006 at 8:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are a hero as much for what you gave for this country in the battlefield, but also for sharing your perspective so vividly and effectively. Politics aside, we owe it to OURSELVES that we stand by the people that fight for us.

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By David R. Armstrong, January 20, 2006 at 7:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In the movie “Excalibur”, Merlin says “It is the doom of men that they forget”. Ron Kovic stands out as one who will not let us forget.

Mr. Kovic’s life-long efforts are public service at its best, and living example, daily courage beyond words. Wounds become wisdom—and like the 60’s song, “when will we ever learn”? Love, and only love, in words and actions, will find a way.

Thank you so much.

—David R. Armstrong

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By JERRY ENGLISH, January 20, 2006 at 7:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RON,

Great article. I am sorry you were able to write it from firsthand knowledge. Would’nt it be great if stories like yours were looked at as historical pieces instead of a current event? 

I was a peace-time Marine in the mid-seventies.
I hope someday, all of our servicemen and women can be peace-time soldiers. I am not a religous person but may God bless and keep you Ron.

Stay strong brother.

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By Lynda Smith, January 20, 2006 at 7:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was very moved by Mr. Kovic’s words. I too think the wounded and the maimed men and women of our military are somewhat forgotten. I am a Gulf War veteran, and while I didnt see a lick of battle, I was welcomed home by atleast 30 vietnam veterans when I returned. I still to this day wonder why I deserved such a warm welcome, but they were spit upon, cursed at, and treated as if they were the enemy. The Military is in place to protect and serve our country. And part of what we do is obey the orders of our Commander in Chief. Whether its right or wrong that we are in this war, the men and women are there because it is their job. I pray every day for the swift and safe return of our troops, but I like most of America, support them while they are there. Bless them all..

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By Greg Haubrrich, January 20, 2006 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Kovic: 

I am a vet too, but not a combat vet.  You look so very well.  Your essay was profound.  Attached are lyrics to a song I wrote, “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.  Don’t Iraq and Vietnam feel like parallel universes? 

Weapons of Mass Destructionc. Gregory “Butter” Haubrich, c.2005

How can you win a war when you don’t know what it’s for – ah ha, uh uh
Our soldiers will not fight unless they know that it is right – ah ha, uh uh
So it’s patriotic duty that you’re sellin’
And you’re gonna have to live with the stories you’ve been tellin’
‘Bout the weapons of destruction
And how you won the war

Mission ... Accomplished

You say you tried to plant a seed and spread the democratic creed –  ah ha, uh uh
And we believe that it is true just ‘cause it’s red, white and blue –  ah ha, uh uh
But I guess we forgot the lessons of the hour
about culture shock and the limits of the power
of our weapons of mass destruction
that we thought would win the war

How can you win their hearts and heads when you desecrate their dead – ah ha, uh uh
when your bombs come rainin’ down on their cities and their towns – ah ha, uh uh
Oh the women with their veils I hear them cryin’
As they hold their babies tight to stop the dyin
from the weapons of destruction
that we used to fight the war

Now your puppets sing your praise and say they’ll love you all their days –  ah ha, uh uh
while they’re lining up in ranks to fill their pockets and their banks –  ah ha, uh uh
But the prince who cannot tolerate dissent
will find out too soon that his power came and went
despite his weapons of mass destruction
he could not win the war

How can you win a war when you don’t know what it’s for –  ah ha, uh uh
Our soldiers will not fight unless they know that it is right –  ah ha, uh uh
So it’s patriotic duty that you’re sellin’
And you’re gonna have to live with the stories you’ve been tellin’
‘Bout the weapons of mass destruction
And how you won the war

Mission ... Accomplished

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By Ruth, January 20, 2006 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GOD BLESS YOU.  My son was injured in Iraq and I appreciate you giving him and others like him a voice.  Thank you..

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By webegeeks, January 20, 2006 at 6:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unless you experience it, you can’t relate.  1968!  You do your duty, and enlist.  You serve with honor, and return home to handshakes in the VFW, a few slaps on the back, and a couple free drinks. 

You have seen things, experienced things, and done things: unimaginable things!  Events you could not have conceived a few short years before.  You can’t escape the feeling of dread and darkness that comes with each awakening, nor the terror you relive the moment you close your eyes.  You have nightmares to remind you of your participation.  You become aware that you are capable of despicable actions, and never, ever escape that reality.

You become hyper-vigilant, uncomfortable in your own skin.  Tense; irritable, unable to make rational decisions at times.  Your wife, your children mean less than they should.  Sounds, sights,  and smells remind you of things you want to forget but can’t.  Resentment begins, and at times, you think you have lost your mind.

Cars with yellow ribbons emblazoned with “Support our Troops.”  More than anything else, these damn things piss me off!  Hypocrites.  You want to put a damn ribbon on your car to show your patriotism, it should read “Support our Vets.”  The American public is so damn fickle; they only care about the troops when the blood is pouring from their veins.  Once the sacrifice has been made, the public will forget.  On that you can rely.  Nothing else is certain but THAT!

I would like to stick every one of those damn ribbons where the sun doesn’t shine.  I hate them.  As a VET, they mean nothing to me.  They anger me. It is 1968 all over again.

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By Sarita H. Brouwer, M.D., January 20, 2006 at 6:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Kovic,  I thank you for your revelatory essay on the ‘extra’ordinary trials and tribulations faced by so many of the soldiers who are faced with the reality or even the possibility , of placing themselves in harm’s way.  Regrettably, were it not for soldiers such as yourself,  we citizens of this fabulous, yet imperfect union would not be enjoying the freedoms and the rights we too often take for granted.  I am of the same generation as you, and did not understand when I was younger that probably ever since there have been two or more men on the planet, that fighting was and very well may always be an inveitability.  I work in the VA Medical system for several reasons.  I owe you veterans a debt of gratitude for your service.  The VA comes as close as I have experienced to treating all patients with the the same level of respect and care.  Know that, in most VA medical systems, if you are ‘patient’ and able to be persistent, you will get care from soup to nuts.
      If I even hit a small bird with the windshield of my car, I am a wreck.  I cannot even begin to imagine the effects of what you all have actually or potentially thought you had to endure.  You are all my heroes and this is my way of giving back to you.  Thank you gentlemen and ladies,  and may you find the care and respect you so deserve.

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By Peter Sedlak, January 20, 2006 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
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Ron,This is an amazing life long journey that you have brought forward to all of us.
I can say with watching my two brother-in-laws coming home after 2 tours in Vietnam that they were not the same people who left us, the real two easy going people died, they have all the mental scars that NO one should have.
My nephew was in Operation Desert Storm and he seems to be doing alright, I can truthfully say that I thank God that he developed kidney stones and was granted a medical discharge because he was ready to become re-activated for Iraq part 2.
Thank you for sharing this very moving story of what the life of a wounded combatant goes thru for the rest of their life.

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By louis lopez, January 20, 2006 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
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Thanks RON ,As one great englishman once said,“Give peace a Chance”

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By Tom Dean, January 20, 2006 at 5:35 am Link to this comment
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Ron,

I do hope that you made it through the 20th of January without much ‘pain’.

I was in Viet Nam from March 1968 to March 1969 assigned to the Americal Division. I was an Army Infantry person. Grunt as some would say. I did not come home with any physical wounds but mentally I was a wreck. The things I saw and experienced first hand no one should have to. Though I speak to you now all these years later it was not until 1990 that I felt like I could have a somewhat ‘normal’ life.

I have been one of the lucky one’s. Having spent many of those years using drugs, living off of others, in and out of the VA, jail and still living with of my parents, when they let me. A part of me sometimes believes that I should not have come home from Viet Nam. It is then that I find myself returning to my depression, drinking heavily, feeling sorry for myself.

I know my life will never be as good as it could have been, but I still have to thank God that I am alive. 8 years ago I met a lady who changed my life completely. And I am thankful for her presence and love.

War is HELL. It has meticulously and completely pushed itself into our consciousness and being in such a way over the millenniums that it has, in some sense, become a part of us as humans. Though the wretchedness, horrors, sickness and death that it leaves behind abhor us, we still allow it to happen. Even those of us who have experienced it first hand, and can vouch for it’s evil nature, have not the ability to stop it. War may always be with us.

Until we as humans learn a better way we will continue to destroy ourselves through hate, greed, selfishness and the inability to stand up to those in charge and say ‘NO MORE WARS!’

After all, we are our own worst enemy.

Tom Dean

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By Carrie Torres, January 20, 2006 at 5:18 am Link to this comment
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Thank you for this article. When the movie first came out “Born on…” I was too much of a wimp to see it. I finally read your book and then rented the movie. It haunts me to this day. I emailed your article to my son and hope he will read it. I love what you have done with your life. My boyfriend of three years is in an electric wheelchair with MD. Thank you again; if we can help in any way with anything, let us know.

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By pfrebyrd@yahoo.com, January 20, 2006 at 3:40 am Link to this comment
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What an excellent story.  I have been trying to convey this message to my war gung-ho brother who wishes to take 2 of my nephews to Iraq with him.  I applaud you in your strength and courage as well as thank you from the bottom of my heart for fighting in a war in which you should have never been.  The government needs to take a long,hard look at themselves and realize that war is never the answer.  Too many lives have been and are being shattered from lies that the government has been feeding the US.  It isn’t about democracy, it’s about oil and money.

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By Jenny, January 20, 2006 at 3:38 am Link to this comment
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I want to thank you for your words. My dad served 2 tours in Vietnam, and to this day carries the emotional and mental scars that never are far away. I pray for all who fight for a cause that isn’t always clear. I believe that the arrogance of our government is only surpassed by the heart of the men and women who serve. I have long thought that the price for the government’s grand show of stupidity was too high; and now I am even more sure that something has to be done to change, as we seem to be only repeating the mistakes that were never learned from in the past.

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By Clayton, January 20, 2006 at 3:11 am Link to this comment
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I am a disabled veteran from Desert Storm 1991 and a military historian. I am convinced that war is so glorified that young men seem to be drawn to its mystic promise of glory, patriotism and ultimate test of their manhood.
The sights and smells of burned bodies hanging from gutted tanks on the battlefield comes with both horror and shock.
The medals cannot replace my scars, nightmares and innocence.
Until the protected and priviliged classes see war as I and my fellow soldiers have, there will always be war.
Our only hope is within ourselves. We have to awake to the idea of glorifying peace, not war.

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By Dennis Talbot, January 20, 2006 at 2:39 am Link to this comment
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Sir, your essay was very very moving. I am 32 years old and eventhough I spent 8 years in the USN as a corpsman I never saw warfare. I thank God for that….You have certainly given insight into a tragic reality that we as a nation are facing today just like we did during Vietnam. I like how you do it in a very non-judgemental way…You point no fingers, nor do you throw any excuses, you just give a point blank “this is how it is being wounded”. I hope more people will read your essay and know there is hope. Hope after the bullets stop flying, hope after the nightmares don’t come so frequent, and hope that ultimatly things will change. Thank you so much for the sacrafice you gave and I want to thank all those that have gone before you and those that are sacraficing today. Thank you all so much, I will never forget.

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By Miriyam, January 20, 2006 at 2:15 am Link to this comment
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Dear Mr. Kovic,

Your words are very stirring.  You are a very brave man.  I cannot imagine living in those conditions for forty years.  I hope your essay can be printed and a documentary made, perhaps tying that one to the one broadcast during the convention a year ago last summer of the woman whose father was killed in Vietnam shortly after her birth and her search for people who knew him.  I often think of those who are left behind by the wars and the terrible mistreatment of our veterans.

I would like to see a national petition demanding the United States accept Bin Laden’s offer of January 19, 2006 of a truce.  It is our only hope of ending the grief and loss, I think.  We are all tired of war.  We grieve, we mourn, we hurt.

May God bless and keep you,
Miriyam

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By blessedone68, January 20, 2006 at 1:07 am Link to this comment
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May your burdens be lifted and peace remain with you always. May you continue to find forgiveness and faith. May you always rest in the arms of the angels who so lovingly brought you home to become such an important part of a story that remains often untold. You do have reason, you do have purpose and in your heart felt words within lies the answers. Bless you sir, and thank you.

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By David, January 20, 2006 at 12:34 am Link to this comment
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What a great photo essay. I hope more people will read it and realize what really happens when young men are sent in to a war zone. I am 58 years old and went to Vietnam in 1972 and 73 as a soundman and a freelance photographer.

I now live in Australia, and I know the Aussie veterans were treated like lepers when they came home because the Vietnam war was so unpopular here.

Real war isn’t like a Rambo movie… If you read the book ‘First Blood’ instead it is quite different from the rah-rah movie we all saw.

I’m sure too that you know the patriotic (rah rah) song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.
Well, here’s the original Irish version, which is a very strong ANTI-war song:

Oh Johnny, I’m glad to see ya home. Hurroo, hurroo.
Oh Johnny I’m glad to see you home, Hurroo, hurroo.
Oh Johnny I’m glad to see you home,
Back from the islands of Ceylon…
So low in flesh, so high in bone,
Johnny I hardly knew you.

With yer guns and drums, and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo.
With yet guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo.
Wi’ yer guns and drums and drums an’ guns,
The enemy neary slew you…
Me darlin’ dear, yer look so queer,
Johnny I hardly knew you.

Where are the eyes with which you smiled, hurroo, hurroo,
Where are the eyes with which you smiled, hurroo, hurroo,
Where are the eyes with which you smiled
When my poor heart you first beguiled…
Why did you run from me and the child?
Johnny I hardly knew yer.

=============

It gets worse, but I won’t fill up the whole page with the song. I’m sure you get the picture already.

The amazing thing is that thirty, forty, or several hundred years on, so little changes.

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By raul portal, January 20, 2006 at 12:33 am Link to this comment
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I am an iraqi war vet who was fortunate enough to come back without any bodily injuries. I also have a brother who has yet to complete his contract with the marine corps. i hope that he is fortunate enough to finish his contract without having to fight. My wish now is that the american people wake up from this nightmare and take a stand against this war machine we call the u.s. government. With articles like this one, we might just have a chance.  Thank you Mr. Kovic.

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By Cindy Buvarp, January 20, 2006 at 12:20 am Link to this comment
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Beautifuly written. What the US government is doing to it’s own people is sickening. They have no concern for the men and women who fight and die for the “greater good” every day. One dies or gets injured, 2 more innocent people go into hell to replace them. It’s a human meat market, and it’s a disgrace. My father served in the Korean war. He hid what it did to him very well, for a time. Day by day, he drank a little more, yelled a little more, got physiclly violent with us a little more, and by the end, he was no longer my father, but a monster created by a government who had no business sending him to a country to fight a war that did not concern us. For the loss of a father I and my 3 brothers never really even had, The government gave us a whole whopping $167 a month. It’s true that the men and women who go and fight in wars suffer, but so do the children of these unfortunate souls. I am living proof. This government tears families apart. It destroys hopes and dreams. Why can’t the goverment ASK the population if they are willing to put their lives and well being on the line for a certain cause before they just volunteer them for it? I for one, am glad I removed my 2 boys from this corrupt country before they have grown up so I don’t have to kiss their coffin when they turn 18. Sounds unpatriotic, But I am sorry, I love my kids and will do ANYTHING to keep them away from that situation. When they turn of age, and then they chose to participate I will have to live with that. But I will not put them in the position of having NO choice.

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By Angelo, January 20, 2006 at 12:18 am Link to this comment
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Ron,

Thank you, Ron.

You sir, are a true, American hero.

God Bless Anerica and God Bless You. 

IMPEACH THE BASTARDS, NOW!

Peace

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By Jack, January 19, 2006 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment
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Thankfully I was not wounded in Iraq, But I still have similar memories / dreams.  The feeling of hopelessness as you wait for the helicopters to get there and you can do nothing, I am not a doctor, for all I was taught about 1st aid, all I really had was morphine syringes and the ability to apply pressure or a tourniquet.  I am very fortunate, but still haunted.  The snaping of rounds, the smell of explosives, people yelling on he radios that never worked when you needed them to, cheering when the attack helicopters roar in with guns blazing, only to realize that they really didnt hit anything.  I am proud of my service and the service of my fellow Marines, they are some of the best individuals in the world, but it all seems so stupid now, and although I will always be a Marine, just like my father and his father, I look at my wife and wonder why the hell I did what I did and why I took the risks I took and I don’t think that I would do it again, at least not for this cause.

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By Charlie Sims, January 19, 2006 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment
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Amazing photo essay about a true hero, Ron Kovic. Listening to Ron and seeing him after all these years makes me realize how much time has really pasted since I last spoke to him. I remember it well, the Vietnam Veterans Benifit at San Francisco where both the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Starship played. Must have been around 1982. I had no money in those days and was trying to get into the concert when Ron heard me telling the gate security that this benifit was for Vets like me and I should me allowed in for free. Ron came to my rescue with tickets and even backstage passes. He looked different than when I first met him in Miami Beach in 1972 when we (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) were marching protesting the Vietnam war and I’m sure if he had remembered me, I looked different too. It’s good to see someone like Ron Kovic, has not given up on his dream of peace in the world.
Thank you again, Ron!
Charlie

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By Neal Segrest, January 19, 2006 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you, Ron for putting your face on us old geezers for the rest of the country.  I think it will make us easier to be approached.

I am also a disabled vet. My full disability did not occur until five years ago. My spinal column was squeezing my spinal cord and had destroyed my myelin that covered it between my head and my shoulders.

The docs at the VA operated and did a pretty good
job on me but I was infected in the O.R. and almost died due to bacterial meningitis. I had two minor strokes and a slight heart attack. I am now trying to get a greater disability level through the Navy. 

I was always a peace-nut, but was not one to run from a fight. I joined as a corpsman and stayed that way. Thank God I came home alive.

Good luck to you and yours,

Neal Segrest

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By Adam Mirarchi, January 19, 2006 at 11:38 pm Link to this comment
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As an orthopedic surgeon working at a VA hospital I am seeing some of the wounded that Ron is talking about.  They have physical wounds true, but more profound are their mental wounds.  I make it a point to thank every veteran that I treat for his or her service.  Often times they are angry and frustrated at me, the system, everything.  The words of appreciation I speak seem sometimes to catch them off guard, but are always well received. It’s my small way of doing what I can for the people protecting our freedom and our country.  Regardless of whether the Bush Administration is right or wrong,  our country owes reasonable health care to those wounded in battle, they absolutely deserve it.

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By Pat Kapp, January 19, 2006 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment
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I was touched by Ron’s essay. I want to believe that our country is doing better with vet’s than in the Vietnam era, but I fear that we really aren’t. Can the press cover this angle?
Why are folks who believe as Ron (and I) do that war is not answer treated so cruelly by the right wing press - to provoke more conflict?

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By Chris Conley, January 19, 2006 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment
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As a former Marine, thank you.  The reality of war has no place in a world full of sissies trying to up-grade the portfolia with Halliburton stock.  Just wrap a flag around your god and go and kill.

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By c.g., January 19, 2006 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment
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I’ve just read two very moving essays.  The first was attributed to Osama Bin-Ladin (the most current broadcast from Al-Jazzera) and the second essay was by Ron Kovic. 

I want to get these two authors together and ask them when is pain and suffering a reason to make war and when is it a reason to stop? 

If you become infinitely tolerable of pain and suffering in the name of avoiding war or even in the name of avenging a war, it would seem pointless, like an exchange of oppression and suffering because one kind is more acceptable than another.

It would seem wise to strive for diplomacy and understanding but failing that how would the authors propose their respective cultures and the rest of the world LIVE together?  Ron and others he knows have found meaning in life.  Osama says his people have nothing to loose.

c.g

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By Erin Little, January 19, 2006 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment
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This has brought me to tears.  It disturbs me to know that the very people who protect our rights and way of life are treated so terribly.

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By Paul, January 19, 2006 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment
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Ron,
When I saw your name show up on a headline on my yahoo homepage, I had to read your article and view your photo essay right away. Your story first captured me on the big screen with tom cruise. Great to hear from you again, and no one better to speak for our brave soldiers coming back now than you. God bless all the wounded, and may their days be happy ones now. thanks for what you do, and did for our country…keep up the good work!

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By mac, January 19, 2006 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment
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Wonderful, brave sentiment, beautifully written, and with a sincerity that could only be conveyed by one who has lived it.

‘The obscenity of war’ - so incredibly true - I only hope that your special perspective will reach everyone and anyone.  I will keep a copy of this with me for handing out when I have the chance.  Thank you for this gift of honesty and hope.  Be well and continue to thrive.

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By Josephine Brown, January 19, 2006 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment
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Every person on the planet that thinks that violence is the answer to anything should read this.

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By Luz, January 19, 2006 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment
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Kudos to Ron Kovic for his courage, sacrifice and bravery to write so eloquently about the horrible experiences of war.  Loved seeing your photo essay.  Though your physical body is unable to soar your spirit carries you and your message higher and louder and is a beacon of light for others.  Peace Ron and may your voice be heard over and over and over until we bring our men and women back home from Iraq.

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By Celsa anedo, January 19, 2006 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment
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I’m touch by this article, since a close relative just came back from Iraq with Leukimia. He’s just 20 years old and already knows his country failed to him. He needs a procedure that can be perfectly done in MD Anderson Cancer Center, blocks away from VA facility in Houston, and they chose to send him to a VA facility in Seattle, Wa, where hi has NOBODY to care about him, because is CHEAPER! What about the price this young man is paying? Is his life cheaper for the USA to spend?
God bless us all

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By Richard Mason, January 19, 2006 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment
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I can not express how much I have been touched by these words.  I am 35 years old and have never been in the military. I have never been to war. I know very few people who have ever experienced the casualties of war.  Until now, I have seen injured veterans as heroes who knew that they were sacrificing their lives for the freedoms that I live every day as an American.  I now see you and and others like you as casualties in mans attempt to save the world, when the world really needs saving from man. Weather the war in Iraq is just or not does not matter to the soldiers and families that must suffer its consequents. What matters is the cost of these freedoms, and I will forever remember that war will never have a winning side.

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By Norm, January 19, 2006 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment
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Right on brother,
When I returned in Jan. ‘69 from Vietnam, a foreign place I had been since April ‘67, I had only vague memories of Vietnam and none were of my experience, except one. The one and only night I got drunk at a USO show that came through Hue City/Phu Bai area, followed by my passing in a ditch.
My memories began to surface in pieces in Aug. ‘83
as did my anger, sleepless nights, my paranoia and fear, which adversely affected all of my family members.
You have the message. I applaud your stepping up now and telling your story nationally.
Thank you. 1-19-06

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By J. Sabo, January 19, 2006 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
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A very difficult piece to read.  I have returned from Iraq fairly recently, and have seen more anyone should ever have to see in a lifetime.  Thank you for taking the time to put into a cohesive thought all the things that float through my mind since returning.

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By Eric Hudnell, January 19, 2006 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you for the insight into the horror of war that is seldom covered by the media.  Your article “The Forgotten Wounded of Iraq” is very moving.  I did not know that you wrote “Born on the 4th of July”.  Thank you for your work.

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By Aleen Golis, January 19, 2006 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment
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I too have viewed way too many of the men who gave their all -almost, but wished they would have returned in a pine box rather than returned to live the lives driven by abuses, and loss of everything they knew and held dear before exposure.  I care for these guys in a VA PTSD unit, grateful each day for all they teach me, and sad for what our country is doing…again.  We’ve had several Iraq vets now, but they and their Viet Nam comrads share the same symptoms, and find solice in that abiltiy to know and share.  God Bless you all.

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By Rebecca Campbell, January 19, 2006 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment
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This was a tough piece to read. I have typed many oral histories of Pearl Harbor survivors, survivors of German and Japanese prisons during world war, and I have a part of a diary of my great-grandfather, who was twice a prisoner of war during the Civil War. I have only experienced war through the words of these soldiers, and so I have limited insight into the horrors that are the day to day realities of those who serve their countries as soldiers. I have more personal experience with the injuries described, the pain and fear and facing the uncharted life before me. My family has been through much in this area. It is so hard for those who must care for those who are hurt and scared and lost…I understand the frustration there as well. These words I read tonight touched me deeply; I am both glad and sorry that I read them. It will be tough to sleep tonight, but I never, ever want to forget the reality presented here. I must always remember, and my children, and my grandchildren. Thank you for the courage to share with me.

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By Eloise, January 19, 2006 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you for a poignant reminder. At 58, I watched friends and my brother go thru Viet Nam, some surviving, some not, none forgotten. My two sons were spared the horrors of young men fighting old men’s wars, thank God.

I am sending your essay to many, many friends who believe as I do, that we MUST give peace a chance.

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By D, January 19, 2006 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
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I was very much touched by Ron Kovic ‘s message to the point that I couldnt’ help but to let some tears out.I truly wish recruiters would be more honest.
My son is determined to join the Marines .zyou have no idea how this keeps me up all night.I try to spend as much time with him 24/7 because I don’t know if they will be any tomorrow once his enlisted.It’s heartbreaking to see your children grow up to live everyday trials, but it’s almost a nightmare when you know what he will be
getting into and it’s totally out of my hands.

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By Ron Thomey, January 19, 2006 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks, Ron..it is good to hear and see you again. You still have the insight and sense of purpose you had 35 years ago when we tried (and at times succeeded) to work our youthful wonders in VVAW. You still have an impact upon me with your ways and words..I will always cherish the times together in L.A. and our long road trip in ‘72! If you get a chance I would love to hear from you again or have you come here and share our missing 32 years. In peace and brotherhood…RT in Michigan

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By MM, January 19, 2006 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment
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I wish you could find a way to have this piece reprinted on Op-Ed pages around the country.  It speaks the real truth of war.

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By Dave Haupt, January 19, 2006 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment
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I just read your powerful, moving essay on Yahoo News. I’m probably a little older than you, but remember the horrible days of Viet Nam. I have a young friend who has just finished Marine Basic. It is sad. He is so pumped up by the conditioning and training and so ready to go to Iraq and “serve his country”. I shudder at his risk and how blinded he is to it. Ah, those big brave men who make boys fight their egotistical wars.

I do see the occasional armless vet around our area. But, I don’t see the head shot or neurologic cases. This war has produced lots of those. Thank you for speaking out. That takes some courage in a time when the government wants access to my internet stuff and your’s.
Dave Haupt

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By Evie, January 19, 2006 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment
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Ron,
  Kent State 1978….Move the gym….... you look great…...email me and we will catch up.
                  Evie

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By Joe Clark, January 19, 2006 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment
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A very important message.  Thank you for speaking out.

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By Patricia Seaton, January 19, 2006 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you for your ability and willingness to articulate the overwhelming devastation experienced by injured soldiers.  We need voices like yours - from those who’ve been to war and suffered - speaking out not only about the individual and social damage done but the horrendous lack of care provided by our government.
A mother of four grown sons, none, thankfully, in the military.

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By Kathy M, January 19, 2006 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment
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How can we, at this time in our human evolution
still believe in violence as a solution?
With all the intellegence and technilogical
advances we have acquired, why have we allowed
ourselves to act as barbarians?
Greed is the answer.  Following blindly is another.  Looking out for our big cars and oversized homes.  Only when it his us personally,
do we take a stand, and it is a feeble one.
Intellegence and compassion is the only answer.
Thank you, Ron, for having the guts to speak the
truth.  I will email your message to all I know,
this is the most important message of our time!!
The Bush administration is a horror, and I too,
believe, that someday, there will be a revolution
of the people, one with grace & dignity, that will stand up for what is right.
Until then, I pray for peace, and resolve to be a
better, more effective human being to those
around me.  After all, that’s why we are here on
this earth.

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By Gail M., January 19, 2006 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you Ron Kovic, for all of your writings. Your book was uniquely compelling, extemely enlightening.  So many of your insights were deep but I was particularly moved by your mentioning of how a beautiful boy ( many of our beautiful boys) were sent overseas; and then the result was a broken, twisted body from the wounds. 

Your other insights about the veterans hospitals conveyed a place almost as nightmarish as Viet Nam itself.  Your fear and horror of the hospital was almost like an extension of the terror in the war.  Your words were deep and thought provoking; inspired.

Through my research on you, I have seen several photos but none of you as a young marine. Nothing in the age range of 17-19, etc.  I have wanted to see a photo of this very young man to round out my perspective on your life and your work.  Let me know if there are any in books or on the net.

Thank you for your latest comments as well as your universal contributions.

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By Roger Drowne EC, January 19, 2006 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment
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Hello Ron, Staff and all

GREAT, U Sound Like Me…

Use anything you want, Writings, Paintoings, Images etc

from our web sites at…

http://www.RogerART.com

http://wwwTheBuffaloParty.com

http://www.OneGlobalCommunity.com

Thank U, Roger Drowne EC
a hippy vet USAF 1959-63

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By nona, January 19, 2006 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment
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very emotional to read, yet very necessary and truthful, should be required reading for every proponent of war and/or sympathizer with our current president.

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By nm, January 19, 2006 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Kovic:

Thank you for your writing.  I grew up during the Viet Nam conflict and can clearly recall the body counts reported every night on the evening news.  At the time, I thought that was normal - that there was always war and the consequent death of young men.

It was not until later that I realized that war is not a necessary evil.  I regret to say that it was not until much later that I realized that the dead are not the only victims of war.

I have watched with disbelief as my country entered into a misguided and tragic war in the wake of 9-11 and I think daily of those, like you, who will return from that war forever changed. 

I am fortunate to be the parent of a healthy, strong four year old who, to my dismay, frequently asks me why our country is at war.  Though I have not yet found a satisfactory answer for her, your commentary goes a long way in addressing the consequences of the war.  While she is too young to understand what you have been through, and the strength that you have shown through your work,I look forward to sharing this piece with her in the future - in the hopes that it will inspire her as it has me.

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By Terry King, January 19, 2006 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment
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I was struck by the graphic reality of war’s terrible consequences.  Great work Ron.  Too bad, we have to go to war. Too bad, we have opponents who hate us and want to kill us.  Too bad, we are always the bad guys. The terrible cost of freedom, too bad.

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By Phoebe, January 19, 2006 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks Ron for your great views Im sure anyone who remembers the war will agree with your views and thank you for being brave enough to come forward and say things every one believes but no one says You are a great american!

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By Carlos, January 19, 2006 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment
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Wonderful and touching essay. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many American veterans of war, particularly around the Veterans for Peace movement. One memorable meeting was with Brian Wilson, I met him and one of his buddies in Nicaragua not long before his legs were amputated while protesting the war machine.

On the other hand, I was born and raised in Central America. Many of my childhood friends died or were permanently incapacitated directly as a result of U.S. sponsored wars in my home country, either as recruits for U.S. puppet governments or as guerillas fighting against the same. The reason I bring this up is that while we rightly feel for our veterans, we ought not to forget that for every one of the 2,000 + American soldiers that have died in Iraq, or the 16,000 + that have returned only a shadow of their former selves, scores many more Iraqis have fallen as well. Yet they don’t have VA hospitals and their best facilities lack the most basic necessities, and home care in such a poverty stricken place is a death sentence.

Thank you Ron, for the good work you do.

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By Michael Globis, January 19, 2006 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment
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If all of the people in the U.S. would have the chance to be in combat then maybe there would be no wars.Since this is not possible war will be a answer to some problem.Lets hope that the majoriaty of the people will speak out and stop this mess soon.Dead and wounded are not a score to keep,get the heros back tighten the borders up and give them a chance to rebuild the U.S. then take on the world.

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By Paul, January 19, 2006 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you Ron for serving your country in the military but more imprortantly in striving for peace, trying to teach others that there is a better alternative to war. 1st Cav 68-69.
Paul

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By Frank Harper, January 19, 2006 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
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Ron - as a fellow Vietnam Veteran I thank you for writing such a touching article.  I was with the Navy Seabees in Vietnam from March 1971 to October 1971.  I was just 21 years-old with one thought on my mind - for my buddies and I to come home safe and sound.  I worked like a “mad dog” overthere knowing that as soon as our assignment to build a radar site on top of Ta Kou Mountain was done we will most likely come home.  We would work from dawn to dusk and then have a 4 hour watch every night.  At the first crack of sunlight it was time to sweep the dirt road for mines.  On June 13, my good buddy Mike Dezik was riding in the back of a 2-ton dumptruck and they hit a mine.  Mike was thrown out the truck and he broke his neck.  I was driving in a pickup in the opposite direction when he was hit.  If my pickup had hit the mine I would not be here to write this note.  Mike is now living in Florida and I have not seen him since - he is imprisoned in a wheel chair like yourself.  I was able to contact him last year and he has an amazing attitude and makes the best of life under the circumstances - he is a true hero.  I hope in the near future I can give him a hug and thank him for the unbelievable sacrafice that he has had to put up with all these years. 

I often ask myself - why me?  There a times of guilt that are just overwhelming because so many thousands of my military brothers suffered crippling wounds,and the tragic deaths of thousands of American soldiers and 8 American female soldiers died in Vietnam - all I can say is - for what?

Just before flying home from Vietnam, I had to use the outhouse in Binh Hoa - as I was sitting there reading the hundreds of writings on the plywood walls, one especially caught my attention:  “When the power of love overpowers the love of power - only then will there be peace”.  I have never forgotton that writing on the wall.  Now If only our so called leaders in the White House will read the writing on the wall and bring our soldiers in Iraq home now!  Enough is enough - 87,178 Americans died in Vietnam - we cannot match that record in Iraq.  To many Americans have suffered from that tragic war already - it’s time to come home. My license plate on my truck is - WARH8ER and I mean it!  It’s time for peace.

Take care my friend and I wish you well!  Peace!

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By Debora McDaniel, January 19, 2006 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
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I was so impressed and moved by your article. As a VA nurse I will print it for all my co-workers at the VA hospital in Milwaukee, WI to read.  When I first saw your movie I felt embarrassed to say that I work a a VA hospital but yet at the same time defending our hospital knowing that I never treated any of our Vets that I cared for in the type of conditions that you had to face. I can only pray that conditions like that will never happen again, but with the cuts that are being done by our own goverment and from what I have witnessed with my own eyes I’m afraid that it might happen again if we are not careful.  As VA nurses we must stand up for our Vets and not let conditons like that ever happen again. I am proud to say that I am able to serve those that have served.

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By Gerald (Jerry) Greenwald, January 19, 2006 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment
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Unbelievably powerful writing. Delivering a crucial message that must be continually addressed until real change happens. Thank you.

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By lisa philman, January 19, 2006 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment
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dear mr kovic if you get this email from me i hope you do   i am turning 44 yrs old in feb i was born in 1962 i was a baby when the war when on in viet nam   i have a friend that was in that war and lost one eye and a leg is name is art mann i have read your story and i do not belive in war to many lives are wasted in it war is not the answer i love my county is freedom worth all the death all the pain all the hurt that is the ?  well may god keep you mr kovic   sign lisa philman

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By Louis Ptuey, January 19, 2006 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you for your service. I am a 34 yr old combat vet who served in the Dish(Mogadishu 1992/93). Crazy stuff happened over there that nobody ever heard about because the media was not in the immediate area to document certain incidents-but we never experienced a tenth of what you guys guys saw in south east Asia. In addition to thanks, I am here to tell you that us soldiers from the 80s and 90s had/have nothing but respect for you guys.

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By Carol Abbey, January 19, 2006 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment
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I have to respond to Ron’s words - as those he speaks are so true!  We all know what he has gone through, because we ourselves can put ourselves in his situation and know what a painful experience he deals with on a daily basis.  I, personally, could not imagine having to fill those shoes.  My son was wounded in Iraq - rec’d a Purple Heart for injuries rec’d from a Roadside Bomb.  It was after he returned home when he realized he was fortunate because most persons who receive this medal either have lifetime disabilities or may not have lived to receive it, but family members have.  Ron, I hope to see more of you and your work - such a Great Inspiration to all who realize that where we are today is not where we should be!

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By Ellen, January 19, 2006 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment
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I admire Ron Kovic. I hope his message is seen and heard by all. I pray that we will wake up. I pray that our latest victims will not continue to be ignored. Have we learned nothing?

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By Sam Wilson, January 19, 2006 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment
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I’ll be praying a rosary tomorrow for peace in this world and for you that God will continue to show you his mercies.

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By JACKIE, January 19, 2006 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Ron, excellent article! I have never had a friend or family member go to war, however, your article was most moving.. I was able to gain understanding that the war is never over in the life of a soldier, that goes to battle. I can truly see that you are a soldier for life.  Thank you so much for this indepth look into the life of vet!

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By Marty Platt, January 19, 2006 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment
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Ron’s story just brought back, memories of when I was in RVN 70/71; Ron, should you ever make it to the New Haven area of CT, please look me up, you said a lot, an awful lot.  I only hope others read and digest what you wrote. God Bless~

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By Kevin Dingle, January 19, 2006 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment
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As a former and recently retired reservist, I had the honor of assisting with transportating our wounded young warriors home. I saw many things that will remain with me forever, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to imagine in my mind you have given me a clear picture as to how tough the road will be for our for physically and mentally wounded troops. Mr. Kovic you have hit home with explaining how the on these young lives.

Thank you for sharing such a hugely personal experience. This may give hope to a new generation of disabled vets for whom I pray our government, will not it’s back on during their time of need.

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By Joe Rios, January 19, 2006 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment
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Ron, I feel the pain. I was a Corpsman in Vietnam 65/66. I saw too much death and wounded Marines. I too have suffered for the last 40 years. God Bless you and your work.

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By john barry, January 19, 2006 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you Ron for this beautifully written and heart-felt article.  I have sensed for some time that the severely wounded have been hidden from the public - as you mention - in the same way that the caskets cannot be photographed.  You are about important work - you have heartened my spirit during this period of extended sadness brought on by this foolish pursuit of war.

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